Tsunade: The Myth, the Woman, the Legend.
Well, I found this interesting article over Tsunade’s possible Slug Sage Mode and I thought I should share it. So, here it is, enjoy!
Tsunade’s fellow pupils Jiraiya and Orochimaru as well as her sensei Sarutobi have shown some affinity to an animal, the animals in question being toads/frogs, snakes, and monkeys. The former two take their affinities for their summons so far that they have “modes” where they take on qualities of a particular creature to enhance their battle prowess [Sage Mode, White Snake Form, Hydra Technique]
In fact, we’ve never seen a Sannin fight without some form of their summon showing up. Because of this, many have theorized (myself included) that Tsunade has her own transformation, related to slugs, that bolsters her abilities. With this parallel drawn, we have can safely assume slug mode to exist (at least for the purposes of this essay) and draw from other facts to deduce what capabilities such a form would give Tsunade.
What she, as well as her summon and pupils, have shown
I’ll start with what herself, he summon and her pupils have shown to get an idea of the nature of the abilities she has/might posses. Most notable of these are her healing abilities which are generally recognized as the greatest in the world. [Tsunade healing, Shizune healing, Sakura healing, Tsunade healing an entire village] Of particular note is her [Creation Rebirth] technique, which grants her temporary “immortality,” if you will, while active.
Her medical prowess is also seen in her ability to easily counteract poison by removing it from the blood directly. [Sakura cures Kankuro] Her two students, in addition to her, have also shown poison feats [Tsunade drugs Jiraiya, Shizune’s poison needles, Shizune’s poison gas, Sakura’s sleeping bomb, Sakura’s poisoned kunai] In all cases, the poison/drug being used if noted to be especially potent.
She has also shown the ability to use her medical knowledge offensively the most extraordinary example of this being her [Body Pathway Derangement]. This technique also suggests lightning nature manipulation given how it functions. Further still, we have evidence that Tsunade has a technique derived from medical knowledge that is an alleged [OHKO].
All of this doesn’t to delve into her physical prowess, which makes her arguably the strongest human in the manga. [Her knock-out finger flick, her single finger fissure, her wrecking a stone wall, her lifting a massive tanto, her drop kick]. She does this by utilizing excellent chakra control, releasing high bursts of power in an instant.
And this doesn’t even touch what her summon has shown to do. Her summon, Katsuyu. as linked in an earlier scan of her healing the village, has been shown to be able to connect with Tsunade to allow the transmission of the princess’s chakra through the slug. The slug has also been shown to be able to [envelope people] and tank massive amounts of damage. The ability to cover multiple people is derived from Katsuyu’s [ability to split] into what seems to be an indefinite number of smaller slugs. Another derived ability from this, is Katsuyu’s ability to [relay information] across large distances as each miniature slug shares the knowledge of all its other counterparts. Katsuyu has also [shown great mobility] (given the fact it is a gastropod) as well has its devastating [Tongue Tooth Sticky Acid] technique.
These are all things we can consider as Tsunade’s feats, though some of them are inferred as being hers through one degree of separation (i.e. techniques she obviously taught her students). I’d like to use these feats as a jumping point into what she might show, extrapolating from the themes she uses in her unique fighting style. Before I do this however, I will first discuss some slug lore from both mythology and hard scientific fact, to further strengthen the parallels I plan to draw and the conclusions I make about her potential powers.
Slugs/snails and the princess in mythology
Before I start this section, I would like to say that my research here was a little limited as I am not fluent in Japanese. That said, if you have anything to add or correct, I’d gladly appreciate the help!
The character Tsunade herself is strongly based off of the famous Japanese novel The Tales of the Gallant Jiraiya. She, as well as her fellow pupils, has a namesake in the novel (random note: Her name itself means mooring rope, which, given her affinity to slugs, a mostly sea-based animal, as well as her titanic strength, is quite fitting). In the novel, the three have mastered three kinds of animal magic: toad magic, which lets the user turn into a toad, snake magic which lets them turn into a snake and slug magic which, as you might guess lets them turn into a slug. Kishimoto has shown the toad and snake magics with Jiraiya and Orochimaru leading us to further believe, that if he is staying true to the story, Tsunade should also have some powerful form of slug magic.
Another story of note is the Sazae-Oni, a legendary monster in myth. It is said to take on the form of a woman pretending to be drowning before it turns into a massive snail/crustacean thingy. If you attempted to mate with her, she’d castrate you and you’d have to barter to get what you’d lost back. The most interesting part here is that it is a giant snail that takes the form of a woman.
This then brings me further into the mythological significance of the snail/slug. Nu Gua is a Chinese deity, credited with creating the first humans in two sets; a beautiful set made to rule and an ugly set made to work. She is also credited with creating the caste system as well as sex and marriage, all things that made her beautiful people happy. Two other jealous God’s got made at her and her people making and rent a massive hole in the sky causing a great flood that would wipe out her people. She took colored stones, using them to repair the hole, and in doing so created the first rainbow. She was also said to use turtle shells as a means to prop heaven up permanently to prevent such a disaster again. Her physical appearance where I drew most of my interest, being described as snake-like and also being called the Snail Woman or Holy Snail.
Greater fascination with gastropods can be found further in Japanese culture and the stories it has concerning the sea cucumber. It is said that in the beginning, the gods asked the sea cucumber whether or not it would obey. Its silence and lack of mouth now represent the answer it gave then. Its sluggishness and passivity can be seen as the characteristic of non-action that is so firmly rooted in Taoist belief.
To conclude this section, I’d like to talk about the Fire trigram, and its hexagram counterpart, Hexagram No.30. This trigram is said to represent the middle daughter, and the hexagram represents light, great clarity, meshes of a net, rope, and the sun moving across the sky. It is a symbol of great understanding and awareness and is best represented by the animals tortoise, mussel, crab, turtle, and snail. It is said to represent knots as well as the human life from birth to death. The goddess associated with the hexagram delayed her own journey into enlightenment so she could help others and it is said that she will not enter Nirvana until all sentient beings have entered before her.
Slugs/snails in real life
Slugs and snails in the real world have many properties that I’d also like to mention before we get to extrapolating the data and theorizing just what exactly Tsunade has in store. For starters, one of their most prominent characteristics is their slime. This slime can be used for locomotion even allowing a snail or slug to crawl vertically or over the edge of a blade, defensively as many of the slimes’ secreted are very disgusting to taste or toxic and poison the predator, for water retention, for mating purposes, as well as for nutritional use as many slugs eat their own slime or the slime of their mating partner.
They also have the ability to self-amputate and reform lost body parts, something that comes in handy when fighting off a predator you just can’t win against. Slugs are hermaphrodites but cannot mate with themselves. All mollusks have a fleshy mantle that some can calcify and turn into shells. Most use a muscular foot to crawl around with this foot contracting and expanding to produce motion. Some gastropods (cone shells) have miniature harpoons that they can use to inject their prey with powerful toxins and some of these toxins can cause serious harm to an adult human. Many land snails can lift ten times their own weight up a vertical surface. Slugs can also register any disturbance in the Earth’s magnetic field around them. Slugs grow teeth like sharks, in a file-in sort of fashion and when a few teeth fall out, new teeth are rotated in.
Now one really cool fact I found is that slugs and snails have copper running through their blood similar to how mammals have iron in theirs. Copper differs from iron in two main aspects, Firstly; iron is heavily magnetic while cooper is only diamagnetic. Secondly, copper is an excellent conductor of electricity while iron isn’t. This makes slugs closer to conductors than magnets (and human the exact opposite).
Finally, there is the so-called “love dart.” This gastropod phenomenon draws its name from the fact it is commonly seen in mating rituals between slugs. This dart can be shot into a stubborn mate and administers a powerful aphrodisiac. The love dart is strikingly similar to how Cupid works, literally shooting fellow members of its species with love. Or both slugs exchange darts as a sort of gift to the other. These darts are seen to be quite large in proportion to the gastropod in question and seem to differ in shape and size from species to species.
What that means for Tsunade
Now the moment we’ve all been waiting for and the very reason set out to right this essay in the first place: how does all this relate to Tsunade? For starters, I’d like to point out how both of her students have shown great poison power. It’d follow that Tsunade herself would be able to create and counteract powerful poison, perhaps even on the fly via ninjutsu. This is further corroborated by the love dart and harpoon structures seen in gastropods across the world and the similarity that bears to Shizune shooting poison needles from her mouth. Perhaps in “slug mode” this could be one of her core attacks or she might even be able to replicate this in base.
Then there’s the fact that copper runs in slugs’ blood. As I mentioned, copper is highly conductive. Given her Body Pathway Derangement technique, there’s strong evidence both in nature and in the manga for lightning element manipulation. This might take the form of a nintaijutsu much like her Body Pathway Derangement technique. You could further draw a parallel between her and her pupils, and see that the other two have shown a high level elemental techniques and that it wouldn’t be far off for her to have a few of her own. This would also make sense in the grand scheme of things as Oro has shown wind, Tsunade would have lightning and Jiraiya would have fire and earth. The three would again fall into a slug>snake>toad>slug relationship as wind>lightning>earth. The fire throws a wrench in the mix. Remember, though, this is simply a theory based off of logical parallels and conclusions.
It may be more likely that, given her affinity to slugs, she has mastered the water element. We’ve seen to some extent that elemental affinity is genetic two prime examples being recombinant kekkei genkai and the Uchiha clan with the later example solidifying the point that a single elemental affinity may be passed down via genetics. We’ve seen both her grandfather and her granduncle utilize either a high level water technique or a high level recombinant kekkei genkai that uses water as one of its component. Further still, slugs have many uses for the slimes they secrete and most species of gastropod are marine life. Her slug itself seems to have a water-eske technique in its acid attack. From all of this, it seems overwhelming likely that Tsunade has proficiency if not mastery in the water element.
Slug’s very anatomies lead to some interesting conclusion about what slug mode may give her the ability to do. She may have some sort of clone technique. I say this because Creation Rebirth is said to restore any damage or lost limbs and slugs have to ability to auto-amputate parts of their body to escape an attack. The combined may lead to a sort of asexual reproduction, or perhaps just a showing of a really high-level medical ninjutsu where Tsunade grows back arms and legs.
Then there’s the possibility of a shell. Just like Sasuke shed his skin and transformed from snake to hawk, so too, Tsunade might build a chamber of some sort to transform from slug to snail. This shell may not come in the form of a giant spiral on her back, but may be malleable and provide a solid defensive technique.
This brings me to the similarities between her and characters from myths, legends, stories, and religions. Sazae-Oni seems to resemble a theoretical slug-mode Tsunade highly, being a beautiful woman that transforms into a giant mollusk. This giant also barters for goods (using stolen ones as leverage) and Tsunade is shown to be quite fond of money and gambling.
Nu Gua, the Snail Woman, or the Holy Snail is also another character of note. Her appearance is described and resembles a description of the alleged slug mode. She also has an affinity to water with her rainbows, further strengthening the idea that Tsuande might have a water affinity and further corroborating the connection between her and this goddess.
Li, the trigram, and hexagram 30 also greatly come into play in describing character traits that could be expected from Tsunade or personality quirks she has already shown. For example, the hexagram represent knots and the mesh of a net while Tsunade’s name means “mooring rope.” The brilliance of the fire found here is also of note, as one of Tsunade’s greatest titles is that of Hokage and she is the inheritor of her Grandfather’s Will of Fire. The symbol also represent life and death, something of which Tsunade is a master of with both her combat abilities and medical prowess. It seems then, that she is the pinnacle representation of this hexagram, constantly giving her all to others before herself to keep the fire of her village lit.
But the most important part about both Nu Gua and hexagram 30 is that, while they are associated with snails, they are also associated with turtles. This lends further evidence to some form of shell ability, one that will perhaps rival the power of a shell that could prop up the sky. I think with both of those facts in tow, Tsunade may be on a tract to grow into a shell of some sort.